Remembering Dr Frank Forster

01 March 2021

Dr Frank Forster left a wonderful legacy for the College and the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology, and his wife and children couldn’t be more proud.

“He was always very interested in medical history,” his wife Prue recalls.

In 1987 Dr Forster offered his extensive medical history collection of books, journals, pamphlets and prints to the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG). The College accepted Dr Forster’s gracious bequest and, an additional wing was built in 1988 to accommodate the collection at College House in Albert Street, East Melbourne. After Dr Forster passed away in March 1995, the library was officially named the Frank Forster Library, in his memory.

Dr Forster’s collection focused mainly on the history of medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology and the social and cultural changes relating to women’s health as well as related clinical topics. Subjects of interest included sexology, marriage, eugenics, maternal and infant care, infertility, ovariotomy, and the history of obstetric forceps. Part of the bequest was a valuable collection of Australian and New Zealand pamphlets from pharmaceutical companies and other associations relevant to obstetrics and gynaecology. This is a unique collection.

The Frank Forster Library is one of the finest obstetrical and gynaecological collections in the world. 

“He was surrounded by a wonderful group of colleagues and supporters, who all worked tirelessly together for the College,” Prue says. Prue pays special tribute to then College House archivist, Mrs Ros Winspear, who worked closely with Dr Forster, and helped organise the College collection.

Prue said: “I was really delighted it was named after him. He was very dedicated and threw his energy into the establishment of the library, particularly after retirement. He was very involved in design of the library room, the design of the dome and the development of the museum.”

While the family understand the need for the College to move to a modern building, the impending move to Bowen Crescent is tinged with sadness.

RANZCOG will be preserving as much of its history as possible during the transition to Bowen Crescent. The Historical Collections Committee has been leading the task of handling the various artefacts and historical collections currently housed at Albert Street.

A substantial amount of the collection will be relocated, some will be archived, and some will be displayed in a digital format at Bowen Crescent, along with a history of each item.

Read a tribute to Dr Frank Forster, published in ANZJOG in February 2004 (Volume 44, Issue 1). Download the article here.



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